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Catholic churches in New York City are being turned into coronavirus testing sites

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SOMOS Community Care, a network of doctors serving a largely immigrant community, partners with the Archdiocese of New York.

In New York City, one of the hardest-hit areas of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic churches are turning into testing centers.

The Archdiocese of New York and SOMOS Community Care, a network of over 2,500 doctors serving nearly 800,000 largely immigrant New Yorkers, announced on Monday that they will launch of a partnership “focused on healing a distressed city whose immigrant communities are reeling from joint crises.”

In areas of the city that are predominantly Hispanic, 52 churches will provide COVID-19 testing to local communities and lay workers. The parishes are in the boroughs of Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Upper Manhattan.

“As Pope Francis personally reminded SOMOS doctors last year, healthcare is an essential human right, and as New York seeks to heal and reopen after experiencing twin crises brought on by inequality, this partnership is essential,” said Dr. Ramon Tallaj, Chairman and Founder of SOMOS Community Care, who led a delegation of physicians to a papal audience last year at the Vatican. “It is our people, our communities, that are hurting the most from this virus, and houses of worship can be a haven for community members as part of our recovery process. This partnership with the Archdiocese of New York furthers our mission to care for the most vulnerable. We must seize the opportunity to rebuild better by closing the health care access gap and addressing the deep disparities that have made so many communities vulnerable during this pandemic, and it starts with critical partnerships like this one with our faith leaders.”

SOMOS (the Spanish word for “we are”), which was launched in 2015, is a non-profit, physician-led network of over 2,500 health care providers serving over 800,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in New York City.

In a press conference announcing the partnership, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, said, “We do need healing and unity in time of incredible strife and experience in our city, our country and our world. We got to refocus on our most vulnerable — the poor, the immigrant, the sick — as treating the sick is essential to our faith. And community doctors are the essence of that work as we try to heal and unify. That’s why the partnership between our Archdiocese of New York and SOMOS Community Care, a network of dedicated community doctors, to set up COVID-19 testing sites at dozens of Catholic parishes across the city in some of the most diverse and underserved neighborhoods is needed so much right now. This is the essence of healing, the essence of unity, the essence of community service.”

The sites will provide both COVID-19 testing and health information. SOMOS had already been running testing sites since March, testing more than 80,000 New Yorkers. The organization also operates 15 food distribution centers across the city in partnership with World Central Kitchen and Maestro Cares Foundation, providing a total of over 15,000 meals per day, feeding more than 500,000 New Yorkers since Good Friday.

 

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